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Struggle & Sacrifice: The key to exceptional leadership and a lifestyle you love

Boldly Unbounded in Struggle and Sacrifice


Hello, you Boldly Unbounded Soul ✨

In leadership, we struggle and make tradeoffs—or sacrifices—all the time. But, when was the last time you asked yourself,

“What am I willing to sacrifice for my greater vision? What am I not willing to sacrifice? Am I really willing to struggle for that vision?”

Speaking of vision, how clear are you on yours? What do you want? What do you really want?

Why do you want it? What will it offer you that you don’t have today? And does it encompass all dimensions of your life?

Life is full of limitless opportunities, and I genuinely believe anything is possible. But anything worth achieving doesn’t come without struggle or sacrifice. That’s part of what makes it so beautiful… and hard at times.

Like, really hard sometimes. So, what are you willing to struggle for? What are you willing to sacrifice?

As I reflected on these questions, it brought to mind a previous colleague of mine. Let’s call her Mel. Mel had achieved ‘the dream’—a well-paying people leader role, a home she owned, a loving partner and pup, and regular travel.

But, she felt like she was living on autopilot, far from feeling fulfilled. So, she left the life of people leadership and landed a work-from-anywhere job, she and her partner sold their home, and they moved abroad.

And of course, Mel’s chosen to sacrifice certain parts of her career and life for her vision. She’s no longer a people leader (for now). She doesn’t have access to a strong job market and is limited by visa life (if you’ve been there, you know the pain). She struggles with a competitive rental market.

But, she travels more than ever. She spends more quality time with their families all over the world. She goes to the beach multiple times a week with her four-footed friend. She’s created meaningful friendships and community in her city abroad. She’s learning a new language. And she still has a well-paying, high-impact role at a globally remote startup.

In the end, she didn’t have to sacrifice her career. It just looks a little different than the original path.

Her story resonates because I’ve taken this ambiguous, tricky path too. And more and more people I talk to, deeply desire this path. They’re done with the prescribed path to success and opt into the adventure of their ambitious vision.


Leading with Sacrifice

First, let’s talk about sacrifice. What is it? Sacrifice is giving up something now for something not fully known to you for a better future.

In Mel’s story, she knew what she was giving up, but she didn’t know what waited on the other side of this life abroad.

What is it for you? What have you given up in the past to help you create a better future?

I gave up a job opportunity to move to Spain in 2013 because I found the love of my life and wanted to do it together. I gave up fun spending for four years to save for the non-lucrative visa to move to Spain. I also gave up an amazing job in San Francisco to move to Spain. Since moving to Barcelona, I’ve had the next set of sacrifices to lead the People & Culture function at remote-first startups and then go solo to build Boldly Unbounded.

Before we go into today’s strategic sacrifice activity, let’s revisit sacrifice in leadership…

Sacrifice in Leadership

How does sacrifice show up in leadership? Think of a recent sacrifice you had to make as a leader. What was the context and what actions did you take?

  • Grows altruism, empathy, and concern for others

  • Boosts positive emotions, a sense of belonging, and trust among team members

  • Strengthens the team’s commitment to the company’s mission, values, and goals

Yet, as you might imagine, there are also costs. If there’s too much self-sacrificial leadership—like taking on others’ workloads so they can take time off—or if the leader’s self-sacrifice appears inauthentic, it can lead to:

  • Encouraging poor performance and masking underperforming team members

  • Harming the leader’s health and wellbeing

  • Creating the perception of a hypocritical leader, leading to a lack of trust and even retaliation

As a leader, knowing what to sacrifice, when, and why it matters is key. So let’s take a look at a simple tool…


Scope Your Sacrifice

Before you sacrifice anything you need clarity. You need your Boldly Unbounded vision—the thing you’re willing to struggle for. The thing that energizes you and scares you.

So, clear out the noise with some solitude to reflect on and clarify that vision. Then, scope your sacrifice. Here’s how:

Create a holistic, inspiring vision.

Ensure you have a clear vision that encompasses your current company/team and life. Your company/team and life should complement each other and create values alignment. But wait, what if you’re not sure how much you’re willing to struggle for your vision? Rate it on a scale of 1 (not willing to struggle at all) to 10 (fully willing to struggle to make it a reality). Your vision isn’t big enough if it’s less than an 8. Find your edges to make it bigger. What if everything feels a bit hazy and you need help to gain clarity first? Schedule a complimentary 30-minute conversation with me. I’ll ask you 5 powerful questions to provoke and challenge your thinking.

5 powerful questions conversation

✨ Pro tip: If you don’t have a company/team vision yet, that’s a great place to start. It will enable better prioritization, commitment, alignment, productivity, creativity, trust, and impact.

Scope your sacrifices.

Once you have your complementary visions, explicitly document what you are willing to sacrifice and NOT sacrifice with the 8 dimensions of wellbeing (check out the Boldly Unbounded Blueprint). Here’s an example.

Sacrifice Scope Exercise

sacrifice scope
Download PDF • 20KB

✨ Pro Tips:

  • Think both short-term and long-term. A short-term sacrifice means giving up something you want right now to achieve a grander goal in the future (like specialty coffee or eating out...). A long-term sacrifice means giving up time, money, or effort to make your vision happen.

  • After you write them down, filter them through your visions, values, and priorities. Do they align? What changes could increase alignment?

  • Decide how long you’re willing to sacrifice these things for. What does short-term mean? Long-term?

Test it.

Ask yourself, “How much am I actually willing to give up?” Be 100% honest with yourself. Trust me, it’s in service of your future self’s success (and your company’s). Use the scale of 1-10 again.

Create a recommitment plan.

When we make sacrifices for audacious goals, we go through cycles of recommitment. Make a list of 1) immediate gains from the sacrifices, and 2) how you’ll recommit to your goals when they test your resolve.

Iterate, iterate, iterate.

Revisit it monthly, quarterly, and annually to track your progress, celebrate your wins, and revise it based on what you learned over the past month/quarter/year.


Struggle & Sacrifice NEXT STEPS

So, there you have it! Now you know how to sacrifice strategically to achieve ambitious goals and realize your vision.

Want to multiply its impact? Facilitate this activity for your team—it can lead to higher motivation, alignment, support, productivity, and creativity. Use it as part of your team’s career development plan and connect it to OKRs. It will help them feel more connected to the organizational priorities and see the impact of their work.

See you next week ✨

Rachel's sign off


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